You know what sucks?
I can’t speak for other
authors, but when you spend as much time with characters as I have with
Bear, Otter, and the Kid (and Anna, and Creed, and Mrs. P), they almost
take on a life of their own. The boys are a part of me, and I won’t
ever be rid of them as long as I live, not even if I wanted to be. I’ve
spent the better part of four years with them, in one version or
another, and when I finished writing Who We Are, it was very difficult
to believe that it was over. I wrote the last words, and while it was a
time for celebration, I wanted frantically to continue the story and
just write and write and write some more so I wouldn’t have to say
good-bye to them. I love them for everything they are, warts and all.
They’re not real, of course. But that in itself is a lie because they
are real to me. In my head I know how they sound, how they walk, how
they laugh, and how they cry. I know the clothes they wear, what their
likes and dislikes are. What they fear. What they cherish.
Sometimes, I wonder if I know them better than anyone else.
wanted to discuss a few things about the book, so obviously there will
be spoilers. If you haven’t read Who We Are, its best you go there
first before reading any further. For the rest of you, here’s a little
taste of why certain things happened.
ABOUT THAT PROLOGUE…
here’s the deal. While I was initially writing Who We Are, Chapter
One: Where Bear Goes To War was initially the prologue, an introduction
back again to the boys. I was doing the first round edits for
Elementally Evolved Book I: Burn and reading an m/m shifter book, when a
realization hit me. One, it seems that a lot of m/m shifter books have
collapsed in on themselves, becoming nothing more than the same story
over and over and over again. Alpha Werewolf (or were-duck or
were-penguin) is leader of his pack/almost leader of his pack/should be
leading his pack and does not have a mate (and has never considered that
his mate might just be a man! GASP! SHOCKING). Enter in said mate,
most likely tinier in stature, but may also be… wait for it… A CHOSEN
ONE!!!!!!! ZOMG!!!! Angst and strife ensue, but they always end up
together. And then I realized that for all intents and purposes, I’d
sort of done the same thing with Burn. Oh sure, there’s no shifters in
the Elemental world, but essentially, it’s the same thing. It seemed I
could escape certain clichés even though I tried, so I wanted to poke
fun at myself and the shifter genre as a whole. Thus, the prologue to
WWA was born. I tried to pile on every single cliché I could think of
when writing it and had a blast doing so. This prologue was written
back in September and was submitted with the finished manuscript to WWA.
However, certain… events… conspired earlier this
year, as have already been discussed to death. I was asked repeatedly
if the Kid would ever have any kind of response to these… events.
Hence a certain snarky response about how shifter stories all seem the
same and how people on the internet need to find things to do. That’s
the only change I made to the prologue. Obviously, it was not born of
any kind of malicious intent. Some people seem to find it funny, others
seem to be pissed off that I wrote that specific line. Look: the whole
prologue was me making fun of myself, and I really don’t have a mean
bone in my body for it to be some kind of angry statement. I’ve learned
it’s easier to laugh at something than to get angry. A little
self-deprecation never hurt anyone. Lighten up!
THE MOST AWKWARD DINNER EVER...
dinner scene. Most of the major players in the BOATK world together
for the first time. Many of the responses I have received about WWA
have mentioned this scene in one way or another. Before I began writing
WWA, I made a conscious decision that I wanted the sequel to be
funnier. I felt that certain parts of BOATK were dragged down by
unnecessary melodrama and really, hadn’t Bear and the boys suffered
enough? (And, already knowing how the last quarter of the book was
going to go, I also wanted to lure the reader into a sort of false sense
of safety as they read, only to get to the last section and have that
ripped away. Yes, I am somewhat of a sadistic bastard.) For the dinner
scene, I wanted the dialogue to snap, and be continuous, with multiple
conversations running over each other, in a way that would initially be
confusing, but would melt together into Creed’s revelation of his
anger/weirdness at the end of BOATK. It was probably the most
technically difficult scene that I had to write in WWA. It went through
several revisions until I was satisfied. I think Bear’s drunken coming
out stream of consciousness speech to Otter and Anna’s parents is
probably my favorite part of the whole book. Bear is a light weight
mess and I adore him. From the Kid inadvertently spilling that Anna and
Creed are doing the baby-making floor tango, to Creed’s realization that
he has to let Bear go (and that maybe, just maybe, he’s in good hands
regardless), I wanted to show that families can be just big, drunken
clusterfucks. I hope you got that from it too.
A QUESTION I’VE RECEIVED QUITE A BIT…
Bear gay? Straight? Bisexual? Gay for Otter? Gay for Otter’s penis?
To answer this question, I’ll refer you to one of the last lines in
Bear’s narrative, where I think I quietly put that question to rest:
“I’m a gay bug zapper, remember?” It can be read two different ways.
WOOKIEE CRY FACE...
who follow my posts know that I alluded to a scene in WWA where even I
couldn’t keep from breaking down. Did you figure it out? No, it wasn’t
when the Kid and Bear were lying in the bed after Otter and Bear
returned from the gay bar (though, I will admit, the line the Kid says
to the effect that without Bear, he’d lie down and die got me a bit
choked up.) No it wasn’t when Otter came home to find Bear in the
bathtub. It wasn’t Bear at the beach in his Tux waiting for Otter to
show, knowing he wouldn’t and the reason why. It wasn’t the poem that
followed (Bear! Bear! Bear!), or the rings, or the hospital, or Julie Mckenna returning. It wasn’t even Otter waking up.
It was the transition, you see, between Otter waking up and Mrs. Paquinn passing away.
Holy fuck me sideways was I a mess writing that.
knew the whole last quarter of the book was going to happen before I
started writing the book itself. I needed Bear to get knocked on his
ass so he could finally open his eyes to see just how strong he really
is. And I knew the only way he could see that is if everything happened
at once. Otter. Mrs. Paquinn. Anna and Creed’s pregnancy. Julie
returning with the truth of it all. I needed him to be the strong one,
but of course, being Bear, it would be somewhat misguided (it is Bear,
But what I did not expect was how much it would hurt getting to Mrs. P.
a relatively short scene, her passing. Bear and the Kid in her room by
themselves, knowing how their future is now awake in another room,
watching part of their past slip away in front of them. It’s relatively
short because I could not write more about it. I’ll admit to having a
Wookiee cry face while I wrote that scene, and when Bear said, “Go on,
old girl”? Gaaaaaaaaaaaah. I took a break for a few days after that to
make sure it’s what was right for the story, that it was right for the
And I found that it was.
I needed Bear to find his strength. And he did.
And I needed the Kid to hold his head tall, because well... I'm not done with him just yet.
ABOUT THAT EPILOGUE…
The Kid is in love with Dominic. And Dominic is…what? Gay? Bi?
Straight? He told Bear he was fucking hot in the car. At the end, he’s
dating some big-boobed woman named Stacey. And a separation is looming
between Tyson and Dom, the Kid graduating early and going to school
across the country, Dominic staying in Seafare where he's a cop.
of everything I’ve received as a response to WWA, the majority of it
surrounds the epilogue and basically boils down to this: “TJ, you aren’t
going to leave them like this, right? There’s going to be another
book, right? RIGHT?!?!?!?!?!”
Come on, folks. What kind of an
asshole do you take me for? If I didn’t feel that I could continue the
story, I would not have left the epilogue as it was. That’d be a big
ol’ downer, wouldn’t you say? So, while it may not be today, or
tomorrow, or even in the next couple of months, you should know by now
as well as I do that the Kid will start chattering in my ear again one
day and I’ll feel the need to open up a new word doc and start a new
story about Ty and Dom (and, just between you and me, I already have
some of the story worked out in my head, and already know the first line
and what the first chapter (prologue??) is going to look like). So
yes, definitively yes, saying right here and now: BOATK3 will happen.
that’s it. For now. I have to say goodbye and let them go, at least
for a little while. The boys will go do their thing and I will go do
mine. We’ll meet up again, down the road. And who knows what will
But… but… if I close my eyes, there are
times that I think I can hear the ocean, that I can smell the salt in
the air. There are times I’m on a little section of beach that no one
really seems to know about. One eye is trained to the sky, to watch out
for a certain seagull. In the distance, I can see three guys. One of
them is big. One is just a little guy. The last is somewhere in
They all raise their hands and wave and it’s like they’ve been waiting for me.
I wave back.
And my God does it feel like coming home.